Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse

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Psychiatric nursing began during the 1800’s when it was determined that patients within mental health hospitals benefited from nursing care. Ever since, psychiatric and mental health nursing has evolved and now students can earn bachelor’s degree in this field. As demand for mental health services has increased, qualified psychiatric nurses are needed to assist patients struggling with mental health problems. After obtaining specialized training and acquiring some work experience psychiatric nurses can become advanced practitioners. These specialists play a vital role in the recovery and treatment process for individuals trying to live normal lives while living with mental illness.

Occupational Roles
Psychiatric nurses employed in clinical settings are classified as either basic or advanced practitioners. Basic practitioners are registered nurses who provide routine treatments to patients, meet with patients’ family members, evaluate patients’ conditions, and assess the effectiveness of patient care. Many basic practitioners assist patients struggling to cope with emotional problems, family members planning interventions for loved ones struggling with substance abuse, and patients working to prevent additional mental health problems. When working with patients, basic practitioners focus on preventative care, strategies to live independently, ideas for making lifestyle changes, and other activities to promote overall mental well-being. Additionally, some basic practitioners administer basic counseling services, organize interventions, and promote mental health awareness.

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Psychiatric nurses classified as advanced practitioners hold graduate degrees. After completing clinical training following graduation, these professionals are licensed to specialize in pediatric, adolescent, and adult psychiatric nursing. These specialists have basic responsibilities, in addition to advanced ones evaluating, diagnosing, and treating individuals struggling with psychiatric disorders. They administer all types of mental health services to patients, groups, couples, and families. Additionally, they often work as psychotherapists, and in certain states, psychiatric nurses with specialized training are permitted to prescribe medicine. Advanced practitioners are also permitted to administer direct patient care at social welfare agencies, psychiatric hospitals, community centers, and psychiatrists’ offices. Many advanced practitioners specialize in liaison and consultation nursing. Many also consultant with doctors and other medical specialists about patients’ mental health and administer treatments to sick or injured patients recovering from traumatic events.

Since psychiatric nurses have generalized backgrounds in psychology, counseling, sociology, pharmacology, biology, and psychiatric services, psychiatric and mental health nurses are invaluable members of medical teams.

Psychiatric nurses often specialize in pediatric, adolescent, adult, and geriatric psychiatry, and various mental health problems, such as eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse, and schizophrenia. The American Nurses Credentialing Center sponsors certification programs for psychiatric and mental health nurses.

Psychiatric nurses are trained to understand the following concepts: psychological and biological theories explaining mental health problems, diagnosing drug and alcohol abuse, psychotherapeutic modalities, assisting at risk populations, involving family within mental health treatments, psychiatric ethics, psychopharmacology, and proper record keeping for patients receiving psychiatric care.

Psychiatric nurses must have these skills: effective communication, complete biopsychosocial evaluation, analytical, organizational, psychiatric diagnostic, counseling, people, and assessment since they frequently monitor patients being treated with psychopharmacologic compounds.

Practice Settings
Psychiatric and mental health nurses assist patients in various in and outpatient settings, including hospitals, psychiatric treatment facilities, community centers, government-funded mental health hospitals, military hospitals, and home healthcare companies. They also work at schools, veteran’s hospitals, correctional facilities, managed healthcare providers, and private psychiatric clinics.

Salary Range
Psychiatric nurses administering basic services typically earn annual salaries falling anywhere between $25,000 – 47,000 annually, but salaries are affected by geographic region.

Advanced practitioners (APRN-PMH) earn higher annual salaries, averaging between $50,000 – 70,000 a year.

Psychiatric nurses classified as basic practitioners typically hold associate’s or bachelor’s degrees in nursing.

Psychiatric nurses classified as advanced practitioners (APRN-PMH) hold graduate degrees at either the master’s or doctorate level. Additionally, they’re certified with the American Nurses Credentialing Center and licensed in their respective state.

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